Hormones and blood

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There are many hormones that assist in the production of blood cells and platelets, regulating blood pressure, protection of blood cells and blood clotting.  Where a patient has constant issues with blood pressure or keeping adequate levels of iron, analysis of hormones should be considered.

Erythropoietin (EPO, haematopoietin or haemopoietin)

Erythropoietin is produced mainly in the kidney, by interstitial cells.  Once the hormone is made it protects red blood cells against destruction.  It also stimulates stem cells of the bone marrow to increase the production of red blood cells.


Angiotensin is a hormone that helps regulate your blood pressure by constricting (narrowing) blood vessels and triggering water and sodium intake.  Angiotensin is part of linked hormones, enzymes, proteins and reactions called the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system.

There are four different forms of angiotensin: Angiotensin I–IV.  Angiotensin II is the main and active form of the hormone.  If your body has too little or too much angiotensin, it can cause health issues.

Angiotensin II binds to several receptors and affects many different systems and functions, including:

  • Stimulating the release of aldosterone from your adrenal glands, which causes your body to retain sodium and lose potassium through your urine.
  • Increasing blood pressure by narrowing blood vessels.
  • Triggering the sensation of thirst through your hypothalamus.
  • Triggering the desire for sodium through your hypothalamus.
  • Stimulating the release of antidiuretic hormone from your pituitary gland, which causes your kidneys to reabsorb water. (1)


Thrombopoietin is the chemical mediator that regulates the number of platelets in the blood by stimulating an increase in the number and growth of megakaryocytes, thus controlling the rate of platelet production.


Vasopressin is known as an antidiuretic hormone.  It maintains the appropriate volume of water in the space that surrounds cells within the body.  It plays a role in regulating circadian rhythm, maintains the body’s internal temperature, blood volume and the proper flow of urine from the kidneys.  Nerve cells at the base of the brain (hypothalamus) make and transport vasopressin to the pituitary gland, which then releases the hormone into the bloodstream  If your body produces too much vasopressin, your kidneys may retain water.  If you don’t have enough vasopressin, your kidneys may excrete too much water.  This causes frequent urination and can lead to dehydration, as well as low blood pressure. (2)


Aldosterone is a steroid hormone produced by the adrenal glands.  It supports the regulation of blood pressure mainly by acting on organs such as the kidney and the colon to increase the amount of sodium reabsorbed into the bloodstream and to increase the amount of potassium excreted in the urine.  Aldosterone also causes water to be reabsorbed along with sodium; this increases blood volume and therefore blood pressure. (3)


Hepcidin is a peptide hormone produced in the liver that plays a crucial role in iron production and uptake.  Serum iron levels must be tightly regulated to ensure an adequate supply is available for hemoglobin synthesis, without allowing iron overload to occur in the body.  Hepcidin decreases the level of iron by reducing dietary absorption and inhibiting iron release from cellular storage.  Too much hepcidin can lead to problems like iron deficiency, where your body doesn’t absorb enough iron.  Too little hepcidin can cause iron overload, where your body absorbs too much.


Most hormones are produced by glands and transported in the bloodstream.  Prostaglandins are produced at the site where they are needed, are produced in nearly all body cells and are part of the body’s way of dealing with injury and illness, where there is inflammation, pain and fever.  When a blood vessel is injured, a prostaglandin called thromboxane stimulates the formation of a blood clot; a muscle in the blood vessel wall contracts to try to prevent blood loss.  Another prostaglandin called prostacyclin has the opposite effect to thromboxane, reducing blood clotting and removing any clots that are no longer needed and causing the muscle in the blood vessel wall to relax.  The opposing effects that thromboxane and prostacyclin have on the blood vessels can control the amount of blood flow and regulate response to injury and inflammation. (4)

  1. Professional, C. C. M. (n.d.-a). Angiotensin. Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/23359-angiotensin
  2. Cassata, C. (2023, September 22). What is vasopressin? EverydayHealth.com. https://www.everydayhealth.com/vasopressin/guide/
  3. Aldosterone | You and Your Hormones from the Society for Endocrinology. (n.d.). https://www.yourhormones.info/hormones/aldosterone
  4. Prostaglandins | You and Your Hormones from the Society for Endocrinology. (n.d.). https://www.yourhormones.info/hormones/prostaglandins/




Hormones involved in Digestion

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The gut is a major producer of hormones, with more than 20 known hormones being responsible for controlling food intake, digestion of food, energy expenditure and influence the pleasure of eating.  Some of these digestive hormones target the brain and work in association with the enteric nervous system and is often why the gut is known as the “2nd brain”.

Some of the well known hormones are below:


Gastrin is a hormone that is produced in the lining of the stomach and upper small intestine and is released into the bloodstream.  During a meal, gastrin stimulates the stomach to release hydrochloric acid, which then allows the stomach to break down food and absorb certain vitamins such as vitamin B12.  Gastric acid also acts as a disinfectant.  Gastrin can stimulate the gallbladder to empty its store of bile and the pancreas to secrete enzymes.  Gastrin also stimulates growth of the stomach lining and increases the muscle contractions of the gut to aid digestion. (1)


Ghrelin is a hormone that is produced and released mainly by the stomach with small amounts also released by the small intestine, pancreas and brain.  It is known as the ‘hunger hormone’ because it stimulates appetite, increases food intake and promotes fat storage.  Ghrelin levels are actually higher in people with lean body weight compared to those who are overweight.  High levels of Ghrelin have also been found in people with certain cancers, anorexia nervosa and cachexia. (2)


Glucagon is made by the pancreas and helps regulate your blood glucose (sugar) levels.  Glucagon increases your blood sugar level and prevents it from dropping too low, whereas insulin, another hormone, decreases blood sugar levels.


Insulin is released from the Pancreas and is essential for helping your body use glucose for energy.  If your body cannot produce enough insulin, or your body cannot use the insulin being released, it causes high blood sugar levels.  In most people insulin lowers blood sugar levels, stimulates metabolism of glucose, protein, and fat.  The inability to produce insulin by destruction of beta cells in the pancreas, creates an autoimmune condition which results in Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus and those diagnosed require injections of insulin for the rest of their lives.  Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus is when the body cannot properly use insulin, and is often a result of poor eating and lifestyle habits which results in insulin resistance. (3) (4)

Insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1)

IGF is a hormone that your body makes naturally in the liver and acts much like insulin.  It used to be known as somatomedin.   IGF helps to control growth hormone secretion in the pituitary gland.  IGF works with growth hormones to promote growth and development of bone and tissue.  These hormones also affect how your body metabolizes sugar, or glucose.  IGF and insulin can work together to rapidly reduce the level of glucose in your blood.


Leptin is a hormone released by body fat that helps your body maintain normal weight on a long-term basis.  It does this by regulating hunger by providing the sensation of satiety (feeling full).  As leptin is created by stored body fat, the higher level of body fat means a higher release of leptin.  This signal should mean that the person stops eating.  For those on weight loss protocols, as your body fat decreases, your leptin levels decrease, which may signal your body to think that it is suddenly in starvation, which it clearly is not.  This feeling of starvation can stimulate hunger and appetite and can lead to increased food consumption.  (5)

Gastric Inhibitory Peptide (GIP)

GIP is a member of the secretin family of hormones.  It was discovered in extracts of intestine that inhibited gastric motility and secretion of acid, and initially called enterogastrone.  It is secreted from mucosal epithelial cells in the first part of the small intestine.

GIP enhances the release of insulin in response to infusions of glucose.  For this action, it has also been referred to as glucose-dependent insulinotropic peptide.


Secretin is a digestive hormone secreted by the wall of the upper part of the small intestine (the duodenum) that regulates gastric acid secretion and pH levels in the duodenum.  When hydrochloric acid passes from the stomach into the duodenum, secretin is released into the bloodstream and stimulates the duct cells of the pancreas to secrete water and bicarbonate.  By this mechanism, hydrochloric acid secreted by the stomach is diluted and neutralized.  Secretin also inhibits the secretion of gastrin, which triggers the initial release of hydrochloric acid into the stomach, and delays gastric emptying. (6)


  1. Gastrin | You and Your Hormones from the Society for Endocrinology. (n.d.). https://www.yourhormones.info/hormones/gastrin/
  2. Ghrelin | You and Your Hormones from the Society for Endocrinology. (n.d.). https://www.yourhormones.info/hormones/ghrelin/
  3. (2023, December 6). Type 1 diabetes | Diabetes Australia | Diabetes Australia. Diabetes Australia. https://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/about-diabetes/type-1-diabetes/
  4. Healthdirect Australia. (2021, November 4). Type 2 diabetes. https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/type-2-diabetes
  5. Professional, C. C. M. (n.d.-d). Leptin & Leptin Resistance. Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/22446-leptin
  6. Utiger, R. D. (1998, July 20). Secretin | Definition & Function. Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/science/secretin



Hormones and Mood

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Many hormones affect your mood, emotions, behaviour and personality.  Certain hormones are associated with specific traits such as depression and happiness, and due to the fluctuations of hormones and the overall health of people, these traits change from person to person.  Hormones can spike dramatically during periods of major life changes, such as after child birth, children beginning puberty, death of a family member or divorce.


This neurotransmitter is also a neurohormone related to the hypothalamus, and one of its main function as a hormone, is to inhibit the release of prolactin and to act in cells in the brain to give you feelings of pleasure, motivation and satisfaction.  Dopamine also controls memory, sleep, learning, concentration and mood.  When you do something fun, you have an increase of dopamine in the brain.  This can also occur when you drink alcohol or use illegal drugs which can lead to addiction.

Dopamine also controls body movements and low levels have been associated with Parkinson’s Disease.  Low levels are also found in people with ADHD.  An imbalance of dopamine can cause mental illness such as depression and schizophrenia.

Dopamine is derived from amino acids, specifically tyrosine which occurs naturally in foods such as nuts, eggs, seeds, dairy and meat.


Released from the Pineal gland, Melatonin is an antioxidant hormone and is important in regulating the circadian rhythm (sleep/wake cycle).  Circadian rhythm is the physical, mental and behavioural changes that follow a 24-hour cycle and respond primarily to light (day light) and dark (night time).

Researchers have also found that Melatonin helps in regulating female hormones and the menstrual cycle.  Melatonin released by the pineal gland (not supplements) helps protect against neurodegeneration (loss of function of neurons) and can cause conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.  Melatonin supplementation is also being used as an extra treatment for women with breast cancer.


Also known as 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT), serotonin is a hormone and a monoamine neurotransmitter.  Serotonin carries messages between the central nervous system in your brain and throughout your body via your peripheral nervous system.  Around 90% of serotonin is made in the gut lining and 10% is produced by the brain.  It is released into the blood stream where it is absorbed by platelets.

Serotonin assists in learning, memory, happiness, regulating body temperature, sleep, sexual behaviour and hunger.  Low levels are related to depressive mood, anxiety and other mental health conditions.

Serotonin is a product of the essential amino acid tryptophan, which isn’t produced by the body, but ingested via foods such as chicken, cheese, fish, peanuts and turkey.

Adrenaline (or epinephrine)

Naturally released from the Adrenal Gland (which sits on the top of each kidney), following a message from the brain that you are facing a stressful, exciting or dangerous situation.  Adrenaline is a hormone that causes your heart rate to increase, your breathing rate to increase, increase in blood pressure and a rise in blood sugar which gives you energy.  This is known as a ‘fight or flight’ response.  Adrenaline is also a medication that is used to treat anaphylaxis. (1)

Norepinephrine (or noradrenaline)

Norepinephrine is both a hormone and a neurotransmitter.  Norepinephrine is produced within the inner adrenal medulla.  Norepinephrine helps the body respond to stress and exercise, it plays a role in your mood and ability to concentrate, it increases heart rate, increases blood pressure, breaks down fat and increases blood sugar levels.  Low levels can cause lethargy, lack of concentration, ADHD symptoms and possibly depression. (2)

Corticoliberin (Corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF), also termed corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH))

Corticoliberin is a corticotropin-releasing polypeptide hormone.  It is also a neurotransmitter involved in the response to internal or external stresses.  CRF regulates adrenal function indirectly through the central nervous system (CNS) via the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and via the autonomic nervous system by way of locus coeruleus (LC) in the brain stem. (3)


Orexin is a neuropeptide hormone, also known as hypocretins, produced in the hypothalamus.  Orexins bind and activate two G-protein–coupled receptors (GPCRs), orexin receptor type 1 (OX1R) and type 2 (OX2R).  Orexin/receptor pathways play vital regulatory roles in feeding behaviour, sleep–wake rhythm, reward and addiction and energy balance.  Several studies have shown that orexin/receptor pathways are involved in pathological processes of neurological diseases such as narcolepsy, depression, ischemic stroke, drug addiction and Alzheimer’s disease.


Oxytocin is a peptide hormone and neuropeptide produced in the hypothalamus and released by the posterior pituitary.  The two main physical functions of oxytocin are to stimulate uterine contractions in labour and childbirth and to stimulate contractions of breast tissue to aid in lactation after childbirth.  During labour, when the fetus’s body pushes against the cervix, the nerve impulses travel to your brain and stimulate your pituitary gland to release oxytocin into your bloodstream.  The oxytocin travels to your uterus and stimulates contractions.  Once the baby is born, oxytocin promotes lactation by causing contractions of the myoepithelial cells in the alveolar ducts of the breasts.  These contractions move milk through your breast tissue.  In males oxytocin plays a part in ejaculation.  The hormone contracts the vas deferens to push sperm and semen forward for ejection.  Oxytocin also affects the production of testosterone in the testes.  (4)

You might know Oxytocin by one of its other names: the love hormone or bonding hormone.  Oxytocin plays an important part in human bonding.  Released during childbirth and breastfeeding, it’s a key factor in the bond between parent and infant.  Hugging, kissing, cuddling and sexual intimacy can all trigger oxytocin production, which can strengthen bonds between adults.


Cortisol is a glucocorticoid (steroid) hormone produced by the adrenal glands.  This hormone regulates the body’s stress response, helps control your body’s use of fats, proteins and carbohydrates (metabolism), suppresses inflammation, regulates blood pressure, regulates blood sugar, and helps control the sleep-wake cycle.  Your body releases cortisol when it has any type of stress, whether it is physical or mental stress.  Cortisol will release adrenaline when a person needs to be on high alert and releases glucose when fast energy is required (ie. to run away from danger).  Normally cortisol would be low in the evening and high in the  mornings.  Cortisol counterbalances the effects of insulin.  Having chronically high cortisol can lead to high levels of blood sugar.  (6)


  1. Healthdirect Australia. (2023, October 17). Adrenaline. Healthdirect. https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/adrenaline
  2. Society, E. (2023, January 5). Adrenal hormones. Endocrine Society. https://www.endocrine.org/patient-engagement/endocrine-library/hormones-and-endocrine-function/adrenal-hormones
  3. Tsatsanis, C., Dermitzaki, E., Venihaki, M., Chatzaki, Ε., Minas, V., Gravanis, A., & Margioris, A. N. (2007). The corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) family of peptides as local modulators of adrenal function. Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences, 64(13), 1638–1655. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00018-007-6555-7
  4. Professional, C. C. M. (n.d.-f). Oxytocin. Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/22618-oxytocin
  5. Professional, C. C. M. (n.d.-b). Cortisol. Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/22187-cortisol


The Body’s Natural Hormones for Growth

Children playing in a room together

Growth hormones such as those listed below are natural hormones your pituitary gland and hypothalamus produce and release.  They promote growth in children, helps maintain body structure and metabolism.


Adiponectin is an adipokine protein hormone and is released by your fat cells as well as skeletal muscle, heart muscle and endothelial cells.  It helps with insulin sensitivity and inflammation.  Low levels of adiponectin are associated with obesity, Type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and atherosclerosis.  High levels of adiponectin are found in people with lower than normal body weight or those with Anorexia Nervosa.

The two hormones, insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) and growth hormone (GH), regulate adiponectin release in fat cells.  Low levels of adiponectin increase the amount of insulin by the pancreas and decrease inflammation resulting in the protection of your vascular system, heart, lungs and colon. (1) peptide

Growth hormone (GH) or Human Growth Hormone (HGH) or Somatotropin

GH is released into the body by the Pituitary Gland and stimulates the growth of the individual, as well as cell reproduction and the regeneration of body tissues.  HGH is a natural hormone and is not to be confused with the synthetic type used by bodybuilders or children with growth issues.  HGH peaks during puberty.  GH promotes the growth of bone and cartilage, regulates fat, muscle, tissue in our bodies, and other aspects of our metabolism such as insulin action and blood sugar levels.  GH prompts our liver to make a substance called insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1).

HGH increases vertical growth in children. However, once your growth plates have fused, HGH cannot make you taller.

Insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1)

IGF is a hormone that your body makes naturally in the liver and acts much like insulin.  It used to be known as somatomedin.  IGF helps to control growth hormone secretion in the pituitary gland.  IGF works with growth hormones to promote growth and development of bone and tissue.  These hormones also affect how your body metabolizes sugar, or glucose.  IGF and insulin can work together to rapidly reduce the level of glucose in your blood.

Growth Hormone Releasing Hormone (GHRH)

GHRH is produced in the hypothalamus.  Its main role is to stimulate the pituitary gland to produce and release growth hormone.  The action of GHRH on the pituitary gland is counteracted by somatostatin, a hormone which prevents the release of the growth hormone.  When there is a normal balanced hormone production, GHRH, somatostatin, growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor 1 levels are regulated by each other. (2)


  1. Professional, C. C. M. (n.d.-a). Adiponectin. Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/22439-adiponectin
  2. Growth hormone-releasing hormone | You and Your Hormones from the Society for Endocrinology. (n.d.). https://www.yourhormones.info/hormones/growth-hormone-releasing-hormone/

Get to know your Thyroid and Parathyroid Hormones

Woman closing eyes with face in the sunlight

Thyroid and Parathyroid hormones are part of your endocrine system.  The Thyroid is a small butterfly shaped gland at the base of the front of the neck.  Most people have four pea-sized parathyroid glands located behind their thyroid gland.

In order to make thyroid hormones, your thyroid gland needs iodine and water. Your thyroid gland traps iodine and transforms it into thyroid hormones.  If you have too little or too much iodine in your body, it can affect the level of hormones your thyroid makes and releases and cause illness.

A full panel of Thyroid pathology includes TSH, T4, T3, RT3 and Thyroid Antibodies.

Thyroxine (T4)

Also known as Tetraiodothyronine.  This is the main hormone released by the Thyroid Gland into the bloodstream.  It is a less active form of thyroid hormone and is converted into the more active T3.  Thyroxine regulates the basal metabolic rate, sensitivity to catecholamines, regulates protein synthesis, heart, digestive function, muscle control, brain development and maintenance of bones.  Excessive amounts of T4 result in thyroid conditions such as hyperthyroidism and Grave’s Disease.  Too little production of T4 creates thyroid conditions such as hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. (1)

Triiodothyronine  (T3)

Triiodothyronine is the active form of the T4 hormone.  Around 20% of T4 is secreted into the bloodstream directly by the thyroid gland. The remaining 80% is produced from conversion of thyroxine by organs such as the liver and kidneys.  Similar to thyroxine, T3 affects almost every physiological process in the body.

Reverse triiodothyronine RT3

Your thyroid makes very small amounts of RT3, which reverses the effects of T3.  After its release from the thyroid gland, T4 is converted to T3, which is active thyroid hormone, or to rT3, which is considered an inactive form, and is incapable of the metabolic activity normally carried out by T3.  In some people with Thyroid conditions, the RT3 becomes dominant.

Researchers believe the body produces rT3 in times of severe illness or starvation.

Thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH), or Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH)

Your hypothalamus releases TRH, which triggers your pituitary gland to release thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), which stimulates your thyroid to release Thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3).  Once your thyroid releases T4, it is transformed into T3 so that it can impact your cells and your metabolism.  In infants it is critical for brain development.  A fetus will start to use its own thyroid at around 12 weeks gestation, utilising the mothers hormones, until it produces enough of its thyroid hormones at around 18-20 weeks.  (2)


Calcitonin is made and released by your thyroid gland to help regulate calcium levels in your blood (not bones) by decreasing it.  Calcitonin opposes the actions of the parathyroid hormone, which is a hormone that increases your blood calcium levels.

Parathyroid Hormone (PTH)

PTH is a hormone that your parathyroid glands make and release to control the level of calcium in your blood, not your bones.  PTH also helps control the levels of phosphorus and Vitamin D in your blood and bones.  PTH levels are mainly controlled by a feedback loop of calcium levels in your blood to your parathyroid glands.  Low calcium levels in your blood stimulate parathyroid hormone release, whereas high calcium levels in your blood prevent your glands from releasing parathyroid hormone. (3)


  1. Thyroxine | You and Your Hormones from the Society for Endocrinology. (n.d.). https://www.yourhormones.info/hormones/thyroxine/
  2. Professional, C. C. M. (n.d.-h). Thyroid hormone. Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/22391-thyroid-hormone
  3. Professional, C. C. M. (n.d.-g). Parathyroid hormone. Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/22355-parathyroid-hormone

Reproductive Hormones – more than Estrogen and Testosterone

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Reproductive hormones are responsible for pregnancy, puberty, menstruation, menopause, sex drive, sperm production, labour and breastfeeding/lactation.  These hormones are produced in the ovaries (in females) and testes (in males) as well as the pituitary gland and the placenta.

Anti-mullerian (AMH)

This hormone is produced in the granulosa cells in a woman’s ovarian follicles and is a marker for the number of available oocytes, which are cells that participate in the formation of an egg.  AMH does not change during the menstrual cycle and can be tested at any time of the cycle. (1)

Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone (GnRH)

GnRH hormone is produced and secreted by specialised nerve cells in the hypothalamus of the brain.  GnRH is carried from the brain to the pituitary gland, where it stimulates the production of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinising hormone (LH), which allow the testes and ovaries to act on their respective reproductive functions.

Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH)

FSH is produced and released by your pituitary gland.  FSH plays a role in sexual development and reproduction.  This hormone stimulates the maturation of the Graafian follicles in the ovary in women and in men, it stimulates spermatogenesis in the testicles.  In the second and third trimesters of pregnancy, the fetus’ pituitary gland releases FSH and luteinizing hormone (LH).  During puberty, FSH and LH work together so that the testes produce testosterone in boys and the ovaries produce oestrogen in girls. (2)

Human placental lactogen (hPL)

hPL is a hormone produced by the placenta when a woman is pregnant.  hPL can alter the metabolism of women during pregnancy allowing nutrients to reach the fetus.  It also helps with insulin sensitivity and prepares the body for breastfeeding. hPL is also called human chorionic somatomammotropin (HCS).  A low level of hPL might mean risk of miscarriage, pre-eclampsia or problems within the placenta or fetal growth.

Human chorionic gonadotropin (HcG)

HcG is a hormone made by the placenta during pregnancy.  HcG levels begin to rise after conception and it is this hormone that is detected in blood or urine to confirm a pregnancy.  It stops increasing at around 10 weeks gestation.  HcG also triggers the body to create more progesterone and estrogen.  HcG tells the body to stop menstruating and thickens the uterine lining to support a growing embryo. (3)


This hormone inhibits the secretion of the FSH by the anterior pituitary gland. It is secreted by the granulosa cells in the ovaries.  This creates a typical negative feedback loop between inhibin and FSH to stimulate the formation of granulosa cells which produce estrogen and progesterone.  In the testes, small amounts of inhibin hormone are produced by the sertoli cells.

Luteinizing hormone (LH)

The pituitary gland releases LH which causes changes to occur in the ovaries and testes.  LH stimulates the ovaries to maintain your menstrual cycle and support pregnancy.  A high surge in LH causes release of an egg in around the middle of the menstrual cycle, called ovulation and most likely when a woman can fall pregnant.  LH also causes progesterone increase during the third and fourth week of a cycle to support a pregnancy.  As you age and go through menopause, your LH levels will increase as your levels of estrogen and progesterone decrease.

In males LH stimulates your testes to make testosterone and LH levels remain fairly stable in men after puberty.

Prolactin (PRL)

PRL is a hormone that’s responsible for lactation, certain breast tissue development and other bodily processes.  Prolactin levels are normally low in males, non-lactating and non-pregnant women. They’re normally elevated in women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.  Prolactin is made and released by the pituitary gland.

During pregnancy, prolactin, estrogen and progesterone stimulate breast tissue development and milk production.  Prolactin promotes the growth of breast tissue called mammary alveoli, where the production of milk occurs.  Prolactin also stimulates the alveolar cells to create milk components of lactose, casein and lipids.


In women, Relaxin is secreted into the circulation by the corpus luteum in the ovary.  Relaxin levels in the circulation rise after ovulation, during the second half of the menstrual cycle.  At this stage it is thought to relax the wall of the uterus by inhibiting contractions, and it also prepares the lining of the uterus for pregnancy.  If pregnancy does not occur, Relaxin levels drop again.  During pregnancy it is released from the placenta, the membranes which surround the foetus, and the lining of the uterus.  Levels are at their highest in the first trimester.  Towards the end of pregnancy Relaxin promotes rupture of the membranes surrounding the fetus and the growth, opening and softening of the cervix and vagina to aid the process of childbirth.

In men, Relaxin is secreted from the prostate gland and can be detected in the semen, but is not generally found in the blood circulation.  (4)


In men, the testicles primarily make testosterone.  Women’s ovaries also make testosterone in smaller amounts.  The production of testosterone starts to increase significantly during puberty where it is essential for growth of muscle, bone and hair mass.  It begins to dip after age 30 or so.  Testosterone is most often associated with sex drive and plays a vital role in sperm production.  A man’s testosterone levels can also affect his mood, storage of fat in the body, and red blood cell production.


Progesterone participates in the female reproductive system, menstrual cycle, promotes gestation in pregnancy and the formation of the embryo.  The main function of progesterone is to prepare the endometrium for a fertilized egg to implant and grow.  Ovulation occurs around the middle of a woman’s menstrual cycle.  The corpus luteum forms from the empty egg follicle and begins producing progesterone.  It works by thickening your uterine lining and creating a good environment for a fertilized egg to implant.  If a pregnancy doesn’t occur, the endometrium sheds (menstrual period).  If conception occurs, progesterone increases to support the pregnancy.  Low levels of progesterone following implantation, can often result in pregnancy loss.  (5)

Estrone (E1)

Estrone is one of three Estrogen hormones, often the weakest type and continues to be made after menopause.  Estrone forms in the adrenal glands and adipose tissue.  The ovaries also produce estrone.  It can convert to estradiol when your body needs a stronger type of estrogen.  In people who continue to experience fatigue, hot flashes or low sex drive after menopause, low estrone could be the cause.  High estrone levels may increase the growth of breast and uterine growths. (6)

Estradiol (E2)

Estradiol is the main hormone present during a woman’s reproductive years.  The ovaries produce estradiol in varying amounts depending on where a person is in their menstrual cycle and reproductive timeline.  Some smaller amounts of estradiol are produced in the adrenal glands, fat cells, breasts, and brain via cholesterol.  Estrodiol levels begin to increase during puberty, rise and fall within the menstrual cycle, and decline as the person ages. (7)

Estriol (E3)

Estriol is the third hormone in the estrogen group.  Normally, levels of Estriol in the body are very low, but during pregnancy, it is made in much higher amounts by the placenta.  Estriol levels increase throughout pregnancy and are highest just before birth.

Men also produce small amounts of estrogen.


  1. Anti mullerian Hormone (AMH) test & ovarian reserve. (n.d.). IVF Australia. https://www.ivf.com.au/planning-for-pregnancy/female-fertility/ovarian-reserve-amh-test
  2. Professional, C. C. M. (n.d.-a). Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH). Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/24638-follicle-stimulating-hormone-fsh#What%20Is%20Follicle-Stimulating%20Hormone%20(FSH)?
  3. Professional, C. C. M. (n.d.-c). Human chorionic gonadotropin. Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/22489-human-chorionic-gonadotropin
  4. Relaxin | You and Your Hormones from the Society for Endocrinology. (n.d.). https://www.yourhormones.info/hormones/relaxin/
  5. Professional, C. C. M. (n.d.-i). Progesterone. Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/body/24562-progesterone
  6. Professional, C. C. M. (n.d.-c). Estrone. Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/body/22398-estrone
  7. Mutchler, C. (2023, August 31). The difference between estradiol and estrogen. Verywell Health. https://www.verywellhealth.com/estradiol-vs-estrogen-why-hormone-levels-matter-7566712

Rejuvenate Your Feet: A Comprehensive Guide to Foot Care using Techniques from Reflexology, Aromatherapy and Massage


In the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, our feet often bear the brunt of our activities. Yet, they are one of the most neglected parts of our body. Foot care goes beyond just pedicures; it involves understanding the principles of reflexology and adopting practices that promote overall well-being. In this blog, we’ll delve into the world of reflexology and explore how to best take care of your feet.

Understanding Reflexology

Reflexology is an ancient healing practice that dates back thousands of years. It is based on the principle that there are reflex points on the feet, hands, and ears that correspond to specific organs, glands, and other parts of the body. By applying pressure to these reflex points, practitioners believe they can stimulate energy flow and promote healing in the corresponding areas of the body.

The feet, in particular, are holograms of the entire body, with each part of the foot corresponding to a specific organ or system. For example, the ball of the foot corresponds to the heart and chest, while the heel corresponds to the lower back and intestines and the inner edge of the foot to our spines. By massaging these reflex points, practitioners aim to release tension, improve circulation, and restore balance to the body.

The Benefits of Reflexology

Reflexology offers a myriad of benefits for both physical and mental well-being. Some of the key benefits include:

  1. Stress Relief: Reflexology helps to relax the body and calm the mind, making it an effective stress management tool.
  2. Pain Relief: By targeting specific reflex points, reflexology can alleviate pain and discomfort in various parts of the body, including the feet themselves.
  3. Improved Circulation: Reflexology stimulates blood flow and lymphatic drainage, which can help to improve circulation and promote overall health, important for diabetics in particular who are prone to neuropathy – the loss of sensation at body extremities like toes.
  4. Detoxification: Reflexology helps to flush out toxins from the body, leaving you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
  5. Enhanced Sleep: Many people find that reflexology promotes better sleep by reducing tension and promoting relaxation, the pre-cursor to alleviating any disease within the body.

Tips for Taking Care of Your Feet

In addition to practicing reflexology, there are several other ways to take care of your feet and keep them healthy and happy:

  1. Keep Them Clean and Dry: Wash your feet daily with warm water and mild soap, and be sure to dry them thoroughly, especially between the toes, to prevent fungal infections. Wear shower shoes in public showers.
  2. Moisturize Regularly: Moisturize your feet daily to keep the skin soft and supple. Focus on the heels and other areas prone to dryness as otherwise prolonged dryness leads to cracks & painful fissures. However, avoid applying moisturizer between the toes, as this can lead to fungal growth. Use Foot balms containing essential oils of Tea-tree for minimising fungal growth, Peppermint for its ability to awaken the senses and kill odour and Lavender for skin soothing.
  3. Trim Your Nails Properly: Trim your toenails straight across the top so that the nail does not extend beyond the tip of the toe, preventing ingrown toenails. Be sure to use proper nail clippers and avoid cutting them too short. The sides of the toenail should be cut and filed down in a curve to minimise digging into & injuring neighbouring toes.
  4. Wear Comfortable Shoes: Invest in supportive, well-fitting shoes that provide adequate cushioning, arch support and ventilation. Avoid wearing high heels for extended periods, as they can cause foot pain, bunions, hammer toes and other problems such as shortening calves and lower back pain. Wear socks of natural fibers such as cotton or bamboo – no more than 25% of the fabric should be of synthetic origin.
  5. Stretch and Exercise: Incorporate foot exercises and stretches into your daily routine to keep the muscles and ligaments in your feet flexible and strong. Here are some easy ones to do daily:  Toe raises, pointing, splaying and curls; ankle rotations, Achilles and calf stretches, rolling one foot at a time on a tennis / golf ball; picking up a marble with you toes; walking on sand.
  6. Elevate Your Feet: Spend some time each day with your feet elevated to reduce swelling and improve circulation. Apply the following blend of essential oils to aid with swollen ankles and feet: 5 drops each of Lavender, Cypress & Juniper Berry & 1 drop of Peppermint all diluted in 30ml of carrier oil or a lotion.
  7. Get Regular Foot Massages: Treat yourself to a foot massage or practice self-massage techniques to relieve tension and promote relaxation. Diabetics in particular are advised to have regular foot massages to aid with circulation to the peripheries.

Your feet are the foundation of your body, and taking care of them is essential for overall health and well-being. By incorporating reflexology and other holistic therapies such as aromatherapy into your daily routine, you can keep your feet happy, healthy, and rejuvenated. So take the time to pamper your feet—they (and you) deserve it!

How to Lose Weight Safely and For Good 

Woman in field of lavender

Despite the wide range of diets available, one in three Australians is overweight or obese. Research shows that a different, healthier approach to weight management works better in the long term than restrictive dieting. This focuses on wellness rather than weight loss.

The holistic wellness programme that I recommend to my clients includes:

· Self-compassion.

· Tools to ease yourself into habit change.

· Nourishing food.

· Jump-starting your metabolism.


Many people have an unkind inner critic who drains them of motivation and stops them believing that change is possible. They berate themselves, get stressed and eat to self -soothe. However self compassion is not the same as being soft on yourself.

Kristin Neff, Associate Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin and author of Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself, defines self-compassion as taking good care of yourself, taking the longer view about what would be nurturing for your mind, body and soul rather than looking for short term gratification.

So while one day we might feel down and remember that eating a large bar of chocolate made us feel better in the past, a more self-compassionate approach would be to do something else that also lifts the mood and is healthy.

Habit Change Tools

We often know what would be a healthier option for us but fail to follow through. Changing ingrained habits can be tough – perhaps possible with strong willpower but, in the long term, we tend to revert back to our old ways.

Dr Judson Brewer, an addiction psychiatrist in the USA (fondly known as Dr Jud), has spent much of his working life looking at how our brains work. What he has found is, when we really experience the full effects of our habits on a deep level in our body, if these habits are harmful to us, our brains will reprogramme themselves so that these habits become less attractive.

Dr Jud uses three steps to support habit change.

Habit Change Step One

He encourages his clients to map out a habit that they would like to change. This involves breaking the habit into three steps:

1. The trigger that causes us to act.

2. The behaviour.

3. The reward/result.

For example, you might come home after a hard day’s work, tired and hungry, then mindlessly over indulge in a sugary snack and afterwards feel bloated and disappointed in yourself. The trigger would be being tired and hungry. The behaviour overeating and the reward/result feeling bloated and disappointed in yourself -not such a reward really.

Habit Change Step Two

This is exploring all the results of this habit – the physical sensations in your body, emotional responses and any thoughts.. How do you feel after finishing the packet of chips?

Habit Change Step Three

Then, only when you have taken time to become fully aware of all the effects of this habit would you start changing your behaviour by replacing it with what Dr Jud called a bigger, better option. You might choose to do a short breathing exercise to get past the craving or to go for a short walk – anything that helps you feel better and healthier.

This is just a short summary of this method . For more information, please see the resources at the end of this article.

Nourishing Food

One important element to regaining your health and managing your weight is eating nourishing wholefoods, organic if possible. While everyone has different dietary needs, these are the main principles apply, whether you are vegan, vegetarian or eat meat:

· Avoid foods to which you have an intolerance or are allergy.

· Eat a varied, plant based diet to ensure you have enough fibre and phytonutrients to help your body work optimally.

· Avoid or at least minimise foods and drink rich in sugar, salt and fat such as fizzy drinks takeaway, chocolate, cakes, lollies and cookies.

· Eat protein rich food with every meal and snack to keep your blood sugar levels steady and avoid energy slumps. Think meat, fish, lentils, dried beans, nuts and seeds.

· Keep hydrated and filter your water, if possible, to avoid toxins.

Jump start your metabolism

If you have been eating junk food and living a sedentary lifestyle, it’s time to be kind to your liver and get your metabolism and digestion working well again by:

· moving more – this can be as simple as getting up every half an hour to stretch and take a short walk.

· giving your body the rest it needs both by having a good night’s sleep and taking mini breaks during the day to de-stress.

· reducing/cutting out alcohol.

· drinking plenty of water – often we think we are hungry and, in fact, we are thirsty. Drinking enough water helps our brains and bodies feel better and work optimally.

You are enough now

While we are bombarded with images of slim, athletic people on screen, if you look around you’ll notice that is not what the average Australian looks like. People come in all shapes and sizes and that makes life interesting.

Think about someone you find attractive and you might notice it’s much more than what they look like. It’s often their sense of humour and the way they make us laugh – or common interests and values that we share. So be gentle with yourself. Life is short and enjoy where you are now while you celebrate gradually easing yourself into a healthier lifestyle to feel better and more energised.


Dr Kristin Neff: Exploring the Meaning of Self-Compassion and its Importance self-compassion.org
Dr Jud: Habit Change Made Simple drjud.com

A Week of Mindful Eating Changing the Habits of a Lifetime by Sarah Isaacs
Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself by Dr Kristin Neff
The Hunger Habit: Why We Eat When We’re Not Hungry and How to Stop by Dr Judson Brewer

Find out what you are made of

Have you ever walked around a health food shop or browsed the isles of the supermarket looking for something to make you feel more energetic, sleep better or lose weight?  If so, you are one of the many people who self-diagnose and prescribe natural remedies to feel better.  Is this effective, or do you end up with a drawer full of supplements that “just don’t work”? 

At Torrens University Australia, The Practice Wellbeing Centres, we believe in a two-pronged approach to wellness.  The first step is to evaluate your overall wellbeing with a personalised consultation.  Personalised consultation evaluates your individual health status, taking into account your health history, diet, lifestyle and other social determinants of health.  Deep understanding of these factors allows your health professional to ensure any treatments are tailored to your needs. 

The second step is to evaluate your body composition using a tool called a Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA).  BIA assesses a wide range of body composition markers including weight, body mass index, basal metabolic rate, intra and extracellular water, muscle mass, fat mass, skeletal mass, biological age and a range of other useful markers. Not only does a BIA take measurements of the whole-body composition, it is also able to provide measurements for specific limbs, which can be very useful, particularly for people looking to optimise physical functionality.  

A comprehensive personalised consultation with BIA may help with:

  • improving physical health 
  • weight loss or weight gain 
  • enhanced athletic performance 
  • recovery from an injury 
  • prevention of disease 
  • healthy ageing 
  • monitoring of treatment efficacy 

It’s important to note that BIA is not suitable for pregnant women and individuals with electrical implantable devices.  

What is Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA)?

Health professionals around the world commonly use BIA because it is a non-invasive, low cost, fast and reliable approach that provides valuable insights into their client’s general health and wellbeing. Used in conjunction with a full consultation, BIA allows the practitioner to understand your baseline health, adjust treatments to suit health and disease risk profile and monitor treatment efficacy. 

How does BIA work?

Bioelectrical impedance analysis is very similar to standing on a set of scales. In addition to measuring your weight, BIA devices can also take very precise measurements of your body tissue composition by sending a low frequency electrical current around the body. As the current travels around your body, the BIA device constantly measures the resistance of the tissue it is travelling through. For example, the current travels quicker through blood, less quickly through muscle, less quickly through fat and even less quickly again through bone. In less than one minute, the BIA device calculates the composition of your body based on the resistance of the current travelling through your tissues. Following that,  it presents this information in a comprehensive, user-friendly report.  

How can BIA help me?

Undertaking a BIA is useful for a number of reasons. Firstly, BIA is a great tool for establishing baseline markers. Maybe you are looking to achieve a goal weight (ie. lose weight or put on muscle)? By taking comprehensive baseline measurements, it is easier to track your progress with subsequent BIA scans and to fine-tune your dietary and exercise regimen to optimise results.  

Secondly, BIA provides an insight into the composition of your body, allowing for highly individualised dietary and lifestyle recommendations. For example, the BIA can provide insight as to how much fat tissue you have, where it’s distributed throughout your body and whether or not it may be posing a risk to your health. 

Thirdly, BIA can be useful in identifying a potential issue before it becomes a problem. If you were to get a BIA every 3–4 months, changes in body composition can be closely monitored. For example, your fat mass might be slowly increasing and your muscle mass might be decreasing over time (which is a risk factor for a number of chronic diseases). A BIA can identify these changes before they become a problem, allowing for fine-tuning of dietary habits and lifestyle practices.  

How do I get a BIA analysis done?

At The Practice Wellbeing Centres  in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Book in for a full health consultation and BIA assessment, with one of our student practitioners, today. BIA consultations take approximately 10 minutes and are done prior to a 40-minute consultation.  We recommend that you allow approximately 2 hours for your entire consultation process that also includes a debrief discussion regarding your health status, interpretation of the BIA report and individualized treatment plan.  All student practitioners at our low-cost community health clinic are supervised by expert practitioners who are at the top of their field.   

Special offer to celebrate Natural Medicine Week

To celebrate ATMS Natural Medicine Week, we are offering a free health consultation and BIA appointment during the month of June.  You can choose to book an appointment in our naturopathic, western herbal medicine or clinical nutrition clinics.  Use the code ATMS when booking your appointment. 

To ensure you don’t miss out, book your appointment now, by calling or emailing The Practice Wellbeing Centre at central locations in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. 

Our clinic details are here.  

4 ways in which Naturopaths can Support Patients with their Oncology Journey

Welcome to PROSPER, the forefront of natural cancer care in Australia.

I’m Carla Wrenn, a Naturopath and Nutritionist with a passion for supporting individuals through the complexities of cancer diagnosis, treatment and survivorship with evidence-based complementary medicine and integrative oncology strategies through my program PROSPER Natural Cancer Care. With over two decades of experience and accolades including the Australian Traditional Medicine Society Practitioner of the Year 2023, I’m here to support you with the knowledge and tools to navigate your cancer journey with comprehensive, personalised care, hope, and confidence.

A Holistic Approach to Cancer Support

PROSPER Natural Cancer Care embodies a multifaceted approach to oncology helping people with cancer safely blend conventional treatments with evidence-based complementary strategies. Principles of integrative oncology are laid out by the Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians and Society of Integrative Oncology. Let’s explore the pillars of this comprehensive approach:

  1. Minimising Treatment Side Effects: Cancer treatments can often bring challenging side effects, impacting quality of life. Through research evident herbal, nutritional and lifestyle medicine techniques, including turmeric, green tea (EGCG), medicinal mushrooms, vitamin D, mind-body practices, and tailored dietary interventions. I aim to mitigate these effects and promote your overall wellbeing.
  2. Research-backed Supplements for Chemoprevention: Complementing conventional oncology treatments – ‘chemopreventation’ refers to the administration of a medication or supplements for the purpose of preventing disease development, addressing the ‘terrain’ of cancer growth and aiming to reduce risks to progression. Evidence-based supplements play a crucial role in addressing underlying factors or ‘Hallmarks of Cancer’ contributing to cancer progression. By safely integrating these supplements into your treatment plan, I strive to optimise outcomes and support your body’s own cancer defences.
  3. Addressing Comorbidities: Co-existing health conditions can complicate cancer treatment, influence outcomes, and affect quality of life. By addressing these comorbidities with personalised management strategies, I aim to optimise your health and resilience, while also enhancing your ability to navigate your overall longer-term wellbeing.
  4. Education on Lifestyle Medicine: Considering diet and lifestyle factors including nutrition, movement, sleep, purpose, stress management – these lifestyle factors wield immense research evident benefits in cancer prevention and management. Through education and guidance, I create a personalised plan to make informed choices that support your body’s natural healing processes.

Your Path to Empowerment

Whether you or your loved one are experiencing cancer – at diagnosis, during or after treatment; PROSPER Natural Cancer Care and complementary medicine may assist you to optimise your health, minimise side effects and promote overall well-being. While helping you feel confident to safely use natural medicines.

Don’t hesitate to reach out – you can find more information at carlawrenn.com